In September it came to light that the Belize National Teachers Union, (BNTU) and the Ministry of Educations were at odds over the re-categorization of hardship and rural allowances. The BNTU said it had viewed with disgust, the manner in which a finalized list of re-categorized schools was arrived at and then circulated by the Ministry. However, the Ministry did not make any effort to appease them, but the BNTU did not let the matter go. Earlier this month, hundreds of teachers went to Belmopan to protest against the policies of the Ministry. Shortly thereafter, the Ministry quickly called a meeting with the BNTU on November 12. It was the first of a series of meeting between both sides. Today, both sides met again behind closed doors. The President of BNTU, Elena Smith spoke to the media after emerging from the meeting.
BNTU President Elena Smith: “Today’s meeting was for us to review schools on the Hardship list and for our branch Presidents and the Ministry personnel. What happen they did an initial review and then the bigger body looked at those documentations and so what we did was to put forward those documentations in terms of our position in terms of the categories that they have and time off for pay. For today we dealt with hardship categorization and time off for payday and then next week we will deal with proposal 22 which have 2 aspects: The matter of the community schools and then the matter of the 7/30 salary benefits for teachers as well .
Johnelle Mckenzie: “ How do you feel about the negotiation so far?
BNTU President Elena Smith: “Well we made our position clear in terms of how we feel our schools should be categorized. We do understand that in terms of the joint staff that they are going to be doing some review but we made it clear as to what our positions were as it relates to the criteria that they had in place, we had made it clear that we did not agree with that and so that remains our position.
The Ministry of Education and BNTU will be meeting on November 28, at which time they will be discussing proposal 22 and the community schools. Thereafter, the Joint Education Staff Relations Council will meet to discuss the hardship allowance on December 3.